It's just another setback for the redshirt sophomore running back that gained national fame and awards last season after he adopted his little brother Fahmar.
"At first I was upset," he said. "But, I am past that now. Sometimes God tests you in different ways and it makes you stronger in the end. I'm looking forward to having the surgery in a couple of weeks so I can start rehabilitation and get ready for next year."
McElrathbey lettered last year as a defensive back and special teams player. He played in every game and had six tackles in the 13 games. He was moved to running back during spring practice.
"I really hate that," Tigers head coach Tommy Bowden said. "He'd come out here and done really well in moving to tailback. He had a nice spring and then he's had a nice preseason. … He's discouraged. I think he saw that he was making some promise and could get in and make a contribution at tailback."
It's very unlikely that McElrathbey would be awarded a sixth year of eligibility as a result of a medical hardship because when he redshirted his freshman year, it wasn't due to an injury. It was a voluntary move.
McElrathbey said Thursday night that his knee gave out when he planted to make a cut during a non-contact drill. He had hoped that it was just a sprain since he didn't feel any pops. But unfortunately, his season has come to an end and he is slated to undergo reconstruction surgery of the knee in a couple of weeks.
Running backs coach Andre Powell said he still wants McElrathbey to be a part of the team and attend team and position meetings. He thinks it will help him mentally.
The Tiger will go with just four running backs for now and Bowden said he doesn't envision anyone else being moved to that position unless something else freakish occurs.
"I'm going to stick with four, but if I have an injury, then I'm going to have to (move someone else to tailback)," he said. "So, if I stay healthy, I'm alright."
However, Powell isn't necessarily accepting that answer. He definitely wants at least one more running back in his stable.
"Do you like going to Wal-Mart with only four dollars?" Powell asked. "I'd think you'd like as many guys as you can afford. I'd like to have six, but I don't get six. So, I just have to do what I have to do. …
"I'm always looking. There's still a couple of other guys I've got my eyes on, but I don't want to say anything yet."
Right now, the primary backup role falls in the lap of Sadat Chambers, who was moved to tailback at the start of fall camp. He still has a lot to learn about the position.
"It definitely creates a bigger sense of urgency to know his assignments really sharp," Bowden said of Chambers. "Protections would be the biggest thing."
Powell said there's really nothing extra he can do to get Chambers ready for the season opener and that it's just going to take time.
"We're going to do everything we can to get him ready to play," Powell said. "I wouldn't say it's a crash course. We can't meet any more and we can't practice any more. We've got to find out exactly what he understands."
QUICK HITS: Bowden said as of today he will defer if he wins the coin toss in the season opener against Florida State. However, he also added that he is going to wait to see what everybody else does on the Saturday before his game. When asked why, Bowden said, "Because I don't have the answer. I ain't that smart. Maybe somebody else has some kind of answer." ... With the team's second scrimmage Saturday, Bowden said he's got a list of things he's definitely looking out for. ... "You'd like to see some more leaders emerge and have a pretty good idea when you go out there on the field on September third that if things go south, who's going to step up or have a pretty good idea of who you can go to on the sidelines," he said. "I'd like to see consistency out of our punter and the field goal guy and hopefully our kickoff coverage will do as good as it did last week." …
Running back James Davis and offensive tackle Christian Capote returned to practice Friday and both are scheduled to participate Saturday. … Eight players continue to miss practice due to injury. The list includes Antwon Murchison (concussion), Josh Miller (oral surgery), Ricky Sapp (sprained ankle), Dorell Scott (sprained ankle), Landon Walker (knee), Jamie Cumbie (shoulder), Brandon Maye (foot), and Drew Traylor (foot).
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